Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tools of the Trade: Moleskine Le Petit Prince Limited Edition Gift Box

I have long said I think Les Miserables is the greatest novel ever written, and The Little Prince is the wisest one. I love so much about Le Petit Prince, from the sweet illustrations to the philosophy tucked into the so-simple-it's-complicated story. I've got multiple copies of the book in several translations, and an untranslated French copy. It even inspired me to respect a snake. Sort of.

My friend Stacey (who is the very, very coolest) shares my love of the book, and knows me well. For Christmas, she gave me this the Moleskine Le Petit Prince Limited Edition Box Set. As if that wasn't enough, she also gave me the Le Petit Prince Moleskine Planner.

Moleskine Le Petit Prince Limited Edition Box Set

I've been a Moleskine user for nearly a decade, and I've sampled pretty widely from their product line. I've seen a few limited edition sets come and go that I thought would be cool to have, but they're pricey and I never pulled the trigger to buy one for myself. When I heard about this one, I didn't even look at the pictures because I knew I would want it, and I didn't expect I'd ever lay hands on it. Well. Stacey proved me wrong on that one, and I'm so glad she did.

The set contains:
  • One photo/keepsake box
  • Three Le Petit Prince postcards
  • One sheet of Le Petit Prince stickers
  • Six ruled Volant notebooks, each with a Le Petit Prince illustration on the front cover, three orange, three Prussian blue
First, the box. It's a nice, big box for photos or other small objects. It is styled like a large Moleskine notebook, with an elastic strap closure. It's a nice package, and I like that it is useful rather than designed to be discarded. The front is engraved with text from the original French Le Petite Prince, but there is no illustration or imagery otherwise beneath the paper label. The interior of the box is designed to cradle the 5 x 8.25 Volants perfectly, and there is a ribbon attached to assist in removing them. Once I have used up the notebooks, I will probably use this box to store ink samples and pen parts. It is certainly much nicer than the shoebox I currently use.


Next, the postcards.  The scenes depicted on the three postcards fit thematically with the the "acts" of the book. I eventually plan to mat and frame mine. The stickers included are nicely colored and include some iconic (and heartbreaking) scenes from the book. I don't know if/how I will end up using them, but they're a nice addition to the set.

Lastly, the notebooks. I've used Moleskine Volants in several sizes over the years, and I enjoy the form-factor. The covers are flexible plastic, and the binding is glued. They're a little more durable feeling than the Moleskine Cahier, which has a thick paper cover, but the plastic makes it feel a little less romantic. They open flat and are consistently constructed across all six. The paper is off-white and ruled with relatively subtle gray lines.

My one gripe with Moleskine has always been their paper consistency. You might get one that has amazing smooth paper that can take the wettest fountain pen and make the ink pop off the page, and then turn around and get another one that feels like writing on the illegitimate child of a grocery bag and a roll of toilet paper. That hasn't been enough to stop me using them because I really like their durability, form-factor, ruling options/styling, and relative availability, but I know a lot of extensive writers who spend a lot of money looking for quality notebooks that no longer touch them. It's not enough to give us a good notebook once in a while. We want to know that when we pay for a premium writing experience, we're going to get one every time.

I've found the Volant from this set I've been using to be on the lower end of the Moleskine quality range. The paper looks great, with a smooth finish and crisp ruling (especially compared to some of the lower-quality Cahiers I've had that looked and felt like sandpaper). I thought I was in for a lucky Moleskine experience, but the ink test page never lies. There are some considerable feathering and bleedthrough issues, especially with wetter/broader fountain pen nibs.It can hold its own with a fine nib and relatively conventional ink, but there is still some spotting and showthrough. If you're a ballpoint or pencil user, you won't have a bit of problem.

Personally, I'm not that bummed about the paper because it's definitely not the worst quality Moleskine I've ever used, and for what I need out of this notebook, it'll do fine. This Volant trucks along with me in my work bag where I tend to hustle in notes with either a Uniball Signo gel pen or (if I'm lucky), my Pilot Metropolitan or Kakuno, both fine nibs and nearly always inked with well-behaved Pilot Iroshizuku Take-sumi. I'm not afraid to write over blots and bleedthrough, and I still adore the cover, the form-factor, the ruling, and the flexibility of the notebook. I'm still not sure what surprises are in store for the other five in the set; this is the only one I've tested, and there's no guarantee the other that came with it will have the same paper quality.

This set was originally released in 2012 and is currently discontinued, but can be found in new condition with a little digging.

Le Petite Prince 2015 Weekly Planner

But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you.”  --Antoine St. Exupery, The Little Prince

This planner was not part of the Gift Box, but is a welcome companion. It seems appropriate to drop in a little review of it as well.

The planner is designed like a standard large Molekine hardcover notebook, and feels much the same to use. The opening section of the planner includes yearly calendars, time zone information, flight destinations, and even a ruler printed on the edge of a page. Some of these things may come in handy to some, but for me, they're more or less filler except for the yearly calendars.

The calendar pages are set up nicely for my purposes, with a week on the left and a note page on the right. It works out that the note page provides guide lines for the following calendar page, allowing me to keep things neat if I'm so inclined. (So far, I am. Check with me again around November.)


I have a separate planner for work--I use a battle-worn Staples Arc with custom pages--so this has become my personal planner. I keep up with band performances, travel plans, visits and activities with friends, bookbinding orders/shipping dates, and blog posts. (Yes, I do try to plan those. No, I don't often succeed. I'm trying!) 

The paper is thin and prone to bleedthrough, but is smooth and pleasant to write on. Again, I'm not too uptight about bleedthrough and have no problems writing right over it.

Maybe moreso than the Le Petit Prince Gift Box Volants, Moleskine really turned on the charm with the theme. Even the label, which I almost crumpled and threw away, has a little Easter egg on the reverse side: The Little Prince's passport.

Instead of the usual Moleskine "If found, return to..." page, they did a special version that made me smile. Here is the one in the Le Petit Prince Volant and the one in the Le Petit Prince planner. 

On the back pocket is printed a passage from the book in English and French. It happens to be one of my favorite quotes, and had it not been printed there, I might have written it in myself. Lovely.

The pocket contains some Le Petit Prince stickers to use however you wish, and in my case a heck of a lot of post-it notes, receipts, and some flags to keep all the planner sections easily accessible.

My biggest fear with this planner is that I will grow attached to it over the year and be sad when it expires. I may have to try my hand at using the cover to rebind a journal or something when the time comes. 

The End

This has got to be the longest review I have ever written, but there are a lot of components to cover! I hope it was helpful, and I hope it might inspire someone to read one of my all-time favorite books. Thanks again to the wonderful Stacey for such a thoughtful, perfect gift, and for remembering, "All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”

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